Despite Dismissal of Case, ACLU Hails Changes in Discriminatory State ID Policy

Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project, reacted today to news that Judge Nancy Edmunds dismissed the group's lawsuit against the state Secretary of State for its discriminatory ID policy. After the ACLU of Michigan filed its lawsuit in May 2015, the Secretary of State implemented significant changes designed to make it easier for transgender Michiganders to obtain ID that accurately reflects their gender:

The ACLU is disappointed in Judge Nancy Edmund’s decision to dismiss our case challenging the Michigan Secretary of State’s policy on gender marker changes to driver’s licenses and state IDs, which made it impossible for many transgender people to obtain an ID with the correct gender on it.  As a result of Judge Edmunds’ November 2015 decision in this case that the Secretary’s policy violated transgender people’s privacy rights by outing them to persons who see their licenses, the Secretary this past March amended its policy to allow a U.S. passport or passport card to be used to obtain a gender marker change on a license. 

This change brought about by the ACLU’s lawsuit made it possible for many transgender people for the first time to obtain a license that correctly reflects their gender.  It is a significant victory for transgender Michiganders.  Moreover, Judge Edmunds made it clear that it would be a “fool’s errand” for the Secretary of State to revert to its former policy and warned that such action could be challenged in federal court.

While we are very pleased about this change of policy, we remain concerned that the Secretary’s policy still prevents members of the transgender community—such as documented immigrants who cannot obtain a U.S. passport and transgender persons too poor to afford a passport—from being able to get the correct ID.  Unlike other states, Michigan’s policy requires transgender people to take on the expense and burden of obtaining a passport, which they may not want or need, in order to persuade the Secretary of State to give them an accurate license or ID.   

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